"The Pentagon has put 50 of Afghanistan’s powerful opium barons on a “kill or capture” list, signalling a radical shift in tactics against the Taleban.
The announcement came as the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, admitted that the insurgency, nurtured by tens of millions of dollars from the country’s vast poppy fields, now held the upper hand. " (Times Online)
It won't matter how many you kill or capture, there will always be another ten to replace them.
The root cause is the money they get from drugs. Not from some far away place but from drug dealers on the streets of the US and Europe. So the farmers produce it and sell it cheap to the Taliban who take all the subsequent risks and profits, so the perceived wisdom goes.
There have been calls to buy the opium for health-care use, but that risks putting legitimate producers out of business.
Maybe just buy it then destroy it. But that will just give them two revenue streams, one legit the other from the normal channels.
Now the world want to become self sufficient so their farmers can't profit from growing other crops. If, for example, they grew wheat or corn there would be no risk involved it is argued, so could reject the Taliban in time. But we don't want their produce, just the oil from the pipeline.
One point that puzzles me, is that before the invasion, the Taliban were destroying poppy fields as they were un-Islamic. Has something changed here?
(Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban's supreme leader, banned poppy growing before the November planting season and augmented it with a religious edict making it contrary to the tenets of Islam.)
Could it be that the freedom we have given the Afghans has allowed them to go back to pre-Taliban days and produce and market opium without the worry of a Taliban 'reprimand'?
Are we buying access to oil not with money but with access to our society for the sale of drugs?
Or is it just spin to justify the war?
Originally posted 11.08/2009